Recruiting and Admitting
First-Generation Students

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A 2011 Chronicle of Higher Education review of federal data found that less than 15 percent of undergraduates at the 50 colleges and universities -- both public and private -- with the largest endowments received Pell Grants in 2008-09; the findings gathered considerable attention in the media because of the conclusion that America's most selective schools are finding only slow improvement in bringing in more lower-income students.

It's important to note, though, that many four-year institutions of varying size and selectivity struggle with how to effectively recruit and retain lower-income and first-generation students. In an interview with Academic Impressions this week, Mary Ontiveros, Colorado State University's vice president for diversity, suggested four key steps to boosting the enrollment of lower-income, first-generation students in ways that not only admit them to your institution but also help set them up for success after they arrive:

  • Educate your staff about the challenges first-gen students face
  • Form a first-gen faculty outreach group
  • Engage in proactive outreach to local high schools
  • Provide resources for parents of first-generation students

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